The Washington Post

Cooking city pigeons, the ultimate in backyard foraging?

Producing honey on the rooftop of an eight-story walk-up may no longer be enough for trend-conscious New Yorkers. Is hunting and gathering, Manhattan-style, the next big thing?

Jackson Landers and John Durant, with an editor and videographer from Prevention magazine in tow, were able to produce a meal sourced almost exclusively with ingredients from a hunting trip on the Upper East Side — well, if you call throwing rocks at pigeons hunting.

Warning: The video contains graphic hunting and cooking scenes.

Landers, a professional hunter and author of “Eating Aliens,” and Durant, a self-proclaimed caveman, prepared a meal of city pigeon and apples for the magazine, all without leaving the neighborhood.

Pigeon: It’s what’s for dinner? (Courtesy of Project PigeonWatch)

Landers said the pigeon was surprisingly palatable, “as good as any mourning dove I have ever eaten.”

In his book released last month, Landers chronicles his adventures hunting and eating invasive species — non-native animals that, for a variety of reasons, have found a home in the United States and are disturbing traditional ecosystems.

The type of pigeon in most cities is not native to the States and has few natural predators to keep its population in check. Thus Landers encourages hunting as a means of population control.

The wild boar, tilapia and Canadian geese in Landers’s book sound much more appetizing than street-dwelling pigeon (though iguana conjures a bad version of alligator).

The practice, he admits, will never be mainstream. Pigeons can accumulate high levels of lead, which potential hunters should be aware of.

But Landers says the practicality of city pigeons may be a draw for some people.

“There are so many people right now who want to eat meat but who question the ethics of farmed meat. Killing an invasive species in a fair hunt is a way of putting meat in their diets without compromising their values. I think that if just a few people in different cities around the country decide to trade the factory-farmed chicken in their diets for free-range city squab then this exercise will have been a success.”

Cara Kelly manages the development of editorial tools and presentation for new products and user experiences. She previously worked in the Style section, following the completion of her MA in journalism at American University.


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